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United States Supreme Court

78 U.S. 88

United States  v.  Tynen

On certificate of division in opinion between the judges of the Circuit Court for the District of California; the case was thus:

Tynen, the defendant, was indicted under the thirteenth section of the act of Congress of March 3d, 1813, entitled 'An act for the regulation of seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States.' The general object of the act, as expressed in its title, was carried out in the first eleven sections.

They declared that it should not be lawful, after the termination of the war then existing with Great Britain, to employ on board any public or private vessels of the United States any persons except citizens of the United States, or persons of color natives of the United States; and they required naturalized citizens thus employed to produce to the commanders of public vessels, or collectors of customs, as the case might be, a certified copy of the act by which they were naturalized, setting forth the naturalization and the date thereof. They also contained various clauses to give effect to these requirements, but, at the same time, declared that the provisions of the act should not preclude the employment, as seamen, of the subjects or citizens of any foreign nations, which should not have prohibited, by treaty or special convention with the United States, the employment on board of her public or private vessels of native citizens of the United States, who had not become citizens or subjects of such nation.

The twelfth section declared that no person living within the United States after the act took effect should be admitted to become a citizen who should not, for the continued term of five years next preceding his admission, have resided within the United States, without being at any time absent therefrom.

Then followed the thirteenth section, upon which the indictment was found. That section declares it to be felony 'to falsely make, forge, or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, or counterfeited, any certificate or evidence of citizenship referred to in the act, or to pass, utter, or use as true any false, forged, or counterfeited certificate of citizenship, or to make sale or dispose of any certificate of citizenship to any person other than the person for whom it was originally issued, and to whom it may, of right, belong;' and prescribes as punishment for the offence imprisonment for a period of not less than three nor more than five years, OR a fine in a sum not less than $500 nor more than $1000, at the discretion of the court.

The indictment charged the defendant with the second of the offences here designated; that he did wilfully, falsely, and feloniously pass, utter, and use as true a false, forged, and counterfeited certificate of citizenship purporting to have been issued by one of the District Courts of California, and setting forth, with particularity, a compliance with the several requirements of the law for the naturalization of aliens.

The indictment did not allege what use was made by the defendant of the forged certificate, or any purpose for which it was uttered; and the defendant demurred. The several grounds of demurrer-reduced to substantially one-were that the indictment did not charge that the certificate or evidence of naturalization was forged to accomplish any purpose contemplated by the act of Congress under which the indictment was found, or for any other unlawful purpose, or with intent to injure the United States, or any State, person, corporation, or association.

Upon this demurrer the question arose whether the indictment charged any offence against the laws of the United States, and whether it were necessary for the indictment to aver that the certificate or evidence of citizenship mentioned in it was produced to the commander of a public vessel of the United States or to a collector of the customs, as provided in previous sections of the act, when naturalized citizens were employed as seamen on board of the public or private vessels of the United States. Upon these questions the judges of the Circuit Court were opposed in opinion, and a certificate of division having been prepared accordingly the case was sent to this court. While pending here, on the 14th July, 1870, Congress passed an act entitled 'An act to amend the naturalization laws and to punish crimes against the same, and for other purposes,' [1] which embraced the whole subject of frauds against the naturalization laws. It declared all the acts mentioned in the thirteenth section of the law of 1813 felonies, but also declared a great number of other acts of a fraudulent character in connection with the naturalization of aliens felonies, in addition, and made the infliction of a larger punishment for each offence discretionary with the court. Thus it authorized imprisonment AND fine, either or both, in the court's discretion, where the former act gave one OR the other only; and where the act of 1813 made the imprisonment not less than three years and the fine not less than $500, the new act made the imprisonment not less than one year and the fine not less than $300.

The matter now to be considered by this court was, what was the effect of this act of July 14th, 1870, upon the provisions of the thirteenth section of the act of 1813; and if it worked a repeal of those provisions, what was the proper action to be taken by the court on the certificate of division?

Mr. Akerman, the Attorney-General, and Mr. B. H. Bristow, Solicitor-General, for the United States; no one appearing for the defendant.

Mr. Justice FIELD, after stating the facts of the case, delivered the opinion of the court as follows:


^1  Approved July 14th, 1870, 16 Stat. at Large, 254.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).